Last week I was working in the office when I received a phone call. Because my cell phone does not work well inside the office, I stepped outside and just walked around the yard as we talked. As the conversation continued, I made my way to my favorite chair where I like to sit and just enjoy watching my chickens meander around the chicken yard. Somehow, I find this relaxing and enjoyable.
It is sort of like pulling up a bucket in the pasture during the cool of the day and watching the cows and calves as they all gather around me. If you have ever done this, you know how peaceful it can be. The cows are relaxed knowing I am there; the calves are relaxed knowing mama is close by; and I relax as I have a brief time of escape and to take my mind off all I need to be doing and the decisions that have to be made. I can just enjoy and admire God’s creations while also seeing His love and majesty in a special way I often miss in the midst of busyness. Almost without exception, these moments turn into times of worship that are very personal and rewarding.
When my phone conversation ended and I headed back to the office, I saw a very unusual sight – so rare that it has only happened to me one other time in 55-plus years. On the barn (where our office is), there was a solid white dove perched on the eave of the building. This dove did not have pink eyes like most white doves. It was just as pure and white as it could be. I could not help but notice that not one feather was ruffled, missing or out of place. It was a dove without noticeable blemish, even the tail feathers were full and even on the ends like you had traced it out and cut it from a pattern with a pair of scissors.
I approached the dove to get some pictures knowing it would fly away. Much to my surprise, it was not afraid of me. It looked at me and turned its head side to side as I approached as close as I could get, but it did not fly away.
This being so rare and odd, I decided to pull up a chair and just see what the dove would do. I thought to myself how I would love to hold this beautiful dove, gently caress it and just admire its beauty. I could not reach high enough to touch the dove nor could I get it to come to me, so I just watched and longed to hold it and show it affection. Eventually the dove started grooming itself. I thought to myself, maybe it will pull out a feather and I will at least have it to save as a reminder of this special moment. About that time, I saw a very small, light, pure-white chest feather float off the dove. It was so light, it took a couple of minutes to get to the ground. It seemed to just float in the breeze, neither rising nor falling, just floating. I was able to eventually catch it and I now have it in my Bible.
It helps to understand that I live out in the country in a pine thicket with relatively few neighbors and none who keep white doves. I could not help but think that God was reminding me that His Holy Spirit is always with me, and He will never leave me nor forsake me. I found this to be a good hour or so to just sing aloud, pray and worship the God who loves me enough to send His only Son to take my punishment upon Himself and Who loves me enough to send me His Holy Spirit to comfort, fill and guide me – giving me His peace. He even loves me enough to send this rare dove at just to right time to encourage and comfort me – it was sort of like sending your wife flowers (at work) when there is no special occasion, just to say I am thinking of you and I love you.
Not only did God use this special occasion to remind me that He loves and cares for me, but He also loves and cares for all those for whom my heart and His heart are burdened: family and friends who need a closer walk with Him, who need His healing touch, but also those who live behind the many faces forever etched in my mind and whose stories and life circumstances I cannot adequately explain to those who have never seen or experienced for themselves even a hint of their plight.
I see the faces of those digging through garbage dumps seeking anything they can put in their stomach. I see the little 11-year-old girl in Jordan who doused herself in kerosene and set herself afire because she was going to be raped again that night and there was no one to protect her. I see the faces of those who have lost everything they had or ever will have materially as a result of war and violence – those who have nothing to live for or to hope in, nothing to look forward to because they have never heard the Good News of Jesus Christ. They do not know God has plans for their lives and has made provisions for them to have eternal life. They do not know because they have no access to the Christian faith or the Word of God.
God used this little white dove to remind me that He too loves and cares for all these people and desires to draw them to Himself so they can know His love for them. He longs for them to experience His forgiveness and inherit not only hope for this life but also for eternal life. He desires to hold them, to caress them, to love them and to be loved by them. Just like my desires for the dove, He does not want to harm them in any way, but just to show His love and affection and enjoy a relationship with them.
In Christ, all racial barriers to salvation are abolished (there is neither Jew nor Greek), all social barriers to salvation are abolished (there is neither slave nor free) and all gender barriers to salvation are abolished (there is neither male nor female). He loves us all the same and His desire is to have a relationship and to demonstrate His love for all people, of every nation (Galatians 4).
God used this beautiful little dove to remind and encourage me to stay in the fight of making His love and salvation known to all the world. I am sharing this experience to remind you that God loves you and desires to have a close personal relationship with you. He also has plans to use your life, talents, resources and influence to share His love with those who have never heard. If He can use a dove, He can surely use you and me to demonstrate His love to others!
Glenn Crumpler is is president of Cattle for Christ International, Inc. He can be contacted at 334-393-4700 (home), 333-4400 (mobile) or www.CattleforChrist.com.